view sourceprint? 01 Ramblings from a Ranch Wife

Random Thought:

Kids need time to be bored; that is how creativity is born.
~Melanie Jean Juneau

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nothing Good Can Come From This…..


One of the things I enjoy the most about my boys is how easily entertained they are.  We don’t need any fancy toys because chances are they will rather play with the box the toys came in.  “I’m bored” is not a phrase they use often because if you give them a few rocks, a stick, and their imaginations, the next thing you know, they will be fighting dragons to rescue a princess, in a war with some bad guys, or catapulting rocks at a target (or more likely each other!).  The phrase “What one doesn’t think up the other will” rings true at our house, and you never know what is going to happen next.  Every day is a new adventure.

If you have spent much time around us, you’ve probably heard me say “they may look like me, but they act just like their dad” a time or two, because looking at my boys is like looking in a mirror for me.  That is where the similarities end though.  They are brave, outgoing, adventurous, and thoughtful, just like their dad.

Or so I thought….. Sunday, I got undeniable proof that they may possibly, maybe some days, kind of act like their mom, but just a little bit! 

We went to Mountain City to visit and brand a few calves.  TR and QT scattered, taking their cousin PJ with them just as soon as the car came to a stop.  They were out of sight, but in ear shot.  Before too long they were entertaining themselves and us.  They had found a hill and a red Radio Flyer wagon.  Two would climb into the wagon and then rock it till it would start rolling down the hill.  TR took charge as pilot and would steer with the wagon handle.  Can you see where this is going?  I almost told them that riding the wagon down the hill wasn’t a good idea…  Almost.

It reminded me of a summer a few years back and a couple days spent in Charleston with my sister and Cousins Becky and Kyla.  Our new brother had just arrived and we were letting things settle at home.  Being ranch kids, ages 4-8 we didn’t watch much TV.  We had 100’s of acres to explore, a lot of mischief to find, and not as much supervision as we probably should have had.

Our adventures led us to the barn and the milk cow’s calves one afternoon.  We decided our time and energy would best be served by teaching the calves to pull a wagon.  The girls and I got busy gathering supplies, which included a couple old lass ropes, a can of grain, and you guessed it, a red Radio Flyer wagon.  What we lacked in experience training calves to pull carts, we more than made up in enthusiasm.  This was going to be epic!

In our infinite calf training wisdom we determined that the biggest calf would most likely be the best at pulling a wagon.  We got to work chumming him into the round pen with the bucket of grain.    “Toro” would be the best for pulling a wagon full of girls around the pen.  Once he got pulling the cart mastered, we would drive him up to the house to prove to Auntie how handy we were. Catching Toro was the easy part. Leppies will do anything for grain we learned.  Getting him to stand in place long enough to be tied to the wagon, and actually tying him to the wagon was the challenge.  We had to make a second trip for more grain, but we got it done.

All 4 of us girls climbed into the wagon, got set, and Becky being the oldest assumed driving duties.  She clucked to Toro just like we’d seen our dad’s do to the work horses in the winter.  Nothing happened.  Finally after clucking some more and whacking Toro with the end of the line, all hell broke loose.

Toro lunged ahead and the clatter of the wagon and shrieking of girls must have spooked him pretty good.  He was off like a rocket and Becky and I baled.  Cara and Kyla made it about 2 feet before the wagon rolled and spilled them as well.  Poor Toro made about half a lap around the pen before he finally came clear of the wagon, but had to drag his ropes until chore time came and some adult came to turn him loose.

We had some tears, bumps, bruises, and a few scrapes to bandage, but we survived!  We also learned a valuable lesson.  Milk calves are not good at pulling wagons.  They are pretty much unteachable!

It’s a good thing Aunt Cara doesn’t have a pen of milk calves at her house, and Becky and Kyla’s boys are so far away.  It’s genetic for these wild little ranch kids (on their mother’s sides of course!) to get into mischief with red Radio Flyer wagons.  This time, as long as TR did the driving, things went pretty well.  He kept the wagon balance, upright, and was able to turn the wagon before running into the big mud puddle or hitting the loading chute.  Letting QT drive was what got them into trouble.  He turned too sharp, too soon, spilling himself and PJ.  There were some tears, bumps, bruises, and scrapes to bandage, but to quote TR “We survived!”  The jury is still out on what lesson was learned, other than not to let QT drive!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Good Help is Hard to Come By

Good Help is Hard to Come By

Why is it fall feels like it is so much busier than the rest of the year?  I think it is because you have to work around other people’s schedules more than any other part of the year.  You have to preg your cows when the vet can be there and ship your calves when the trucker can haul them and it is convenient for the buyer to receive them, all while working around helping neighbors and school.  In the summer, if you can’t spray weeds because the wind is blowing, or you don’t get through the heifers in the Red field, you can probably do it the next day and not worry about scheduling conflicts.  You have more flexibility during the winter, spring, and summer months.

I feel like I have been running since fair time and haven’t stopped to catch my breath yet.  Between getting the boys to and from school, my college class, and working for the Cowboss I haven’t had much opportunity to get into any trouble.  On the upside, all 3 of my boys have been too busy to get into trouble as well!  QT has been busy helping the Cowboss and me in the mornings before school. 

QT and I had a really hard day last week.  After we got TR on the bus and off to school, we caught our horses to help the Cowboss and Russ move a bunch of yearlings from the Barn field to the Ryegrass field.  After we got them moved, QT and I were to go back for the pickup and trailer, then meet the Cowboss and Russ at the house.  Right off the bat we found a yearling that we had missed.  We got around her and got her put where she belonged, and headed on our way to the pickup.  We were given very specific directions to load our horses, then drive through the pairs in the field next to the Barn field, checking to be sure no heifers had crawled in with the cows and calves.  After driving through the pairs we needed to hurry home and get QT fed and ready for school.

We got our horses and dog loaded and drove through the pairs.  We didn’t notice any yearlings and were ready to go home.  Then I noticed 1 hot cow and 13 yearlings in the field we just came out of.  I asked QT what he thought we should do, let dad get them later, or unload our horses and put them away ourselves.  He was pretty sure we better get them for dad, so we parked the trailer a little closer to the gate we would push them through and unloaded our horses and dog.

The cows were pretty wound up, and took off in a long trot in the wrong direction when we got on our horses.  We trotted off to get around them and QT did a really good job keeping up.  Then we chased those cows all over that field.  If there was a wrong way to go or a chance to scatter, the cows took it.  It felt like we were trying to herd cats.  We ran back and forth across a boggy creek 3 times before the cows bee lined it for the willows.  I got QT back across the creek and told him to sit right where he was and I would chase them through the willows.  It took me a good 15 minutes up, down, and across the boggy creek in the willows, a few tears and a lot of swear words before I finally got them out of the willows and headed somewhat in the right direction.  I let out a holler for QT to catch up, and he and old “Knothead” made good time trotting across the field to me.

I told him that if we could get the cows past the barn at the Oglvie and could keep them on the fence we would be in the clear.  If he could keep them coming, I would stay on the side and keep them together and going the same direction.  I’m not going to lie, I had my doubts we were going to get all of them past the barn and to the gate.  Between my 5 year old cowboy, 6 month old puppy, and colt, things were not going well and I was ready to cut my losses and let the Cowboss get them another day.  Every time I looked back though, my little man was whooping and hollering, working back and forth pushing those cows for all he was worth, never slowing from a trot.  We got them past the barn and QT held them up in the corner while I got the gate opened, then he brought them to me and I turned them in.  I don’t know how we did it, but we finally got them through the gate.

Riding back to the trailer I told QT that I was very proud of him.  I said he did a good job, I was so glad he was there to help me, and that I didn’t think I would have ever got those cows on my own.  He looked up at me just as serious as could be and told me “I know mom.  Let’s go home so I can go to school.” He’s good help.  I'll take him over most people any day!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Things I Love....

I love watching the Cowboss with my boys.  There is nothing sexier in my opinion than a dad that spends time with his kids.  I am so thankful that we live in a lifestyle where we are expected and encouraged to take our boys to work with us daily.

I love early morning cuddles with my little manly men.  I have to get used to the idea that my babies are growing up and don't need mom like they used to.  Most days they prefer fist bumps to hugs and kisses.  I live for early mornings where one of my boys will crawl into bed with me and just snuggle for a few minutes, forgetting that it isn't cool to hug mom.


I love the exuberance and enthusiasm my dog greets me with when I get home.  Whether I have been gone for 3 days, or just stepped out the back door and came in through the front door, she lets me know that I was missed.  She meets me at the door, jumping up and down, and the minute she can touch me, she is jumping up on my leg greeting me.  Makes me feel good to know something cares about me and is  happy to see me!

I love fresh horses on brisk mornings.  Isn't it excited to put on a wool sweater, felt hat, and chinks, then step aboard a fresh young horse and have them take a little hop or two on a cool morning?  You get warmed up quickly.  It is a thrilling way to start your day!  Tight horses on brisk mornings make me smile, as long as I can cover them.  If I get frapped, I know it is going to be a bad day!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Flash Back to the End of September

Can you imagine anything better than a crisp autumn morning in Mountain City?  It's cool enough for a wool sweater and wild rag.  The sun is shinning with the promise of a warm day, as you trail just weaned mama cows back to their field before you ship off their babies?  The scent of damp sage fills your nose (making me sneeze, so glad for Benadryl!), and birds chirp as you ride along.  This is my idea of heaven.

I really like where we are living right now.  Lamoille is beautiful year round, but it isn't home.  I don't get homesick for Lamoille.  I get homesick for Mountain City and Merit Mountain, especially in the fall.  Cool mornings, wool sweaters, felt hats, and cotton gloves.  Bring on fall!

Thursday, July 31, 2014


The Cowboss and I roped together in a branding contest one saturday in March.  I used my favorite horse Cricket, and he did awesome.  I felt like I could rope bridleless and he would put me where I needed to be.  He was wonderful.  He has been my sidekick for years.  The horse I depended on to take care of me when I put myself in a bad place, bring me in for a heel shot when I can't think, ride, and rope all at the same time, gave me the courage to do what I didn't think possible, and wings, so I could fly.

Then on that following Tuesday Cricket colicked, and I held my breath.

Wednesday he was better, and I let out a huge sigh of relief.

Thursday I put him down, and I cried.

I keep telling myself how fortunate I am to have had him for 13 years and how lucky we were to have one last great ride, doing what we both loved together.  Honestly though, it hurts.  I feel like I've lost my best friend and can't get over it.  He was the one constant horse in my life.  I rode him through both of my pregnancies and gave he gave both of my boys their first rides.  When I needed to get something done or didn't feel my best, he was my go to guy.  I just knew he would be the horse to teach both the boys to rope.

When given the option of surgery or putting him down, I made the choice to put him down over the 5 hour trailer ride for surgery when the odds weren't in our favor.  He was in so much pain and kept looking to me to make him feel better.

I loaded him in our trailer and I drove him home.  I unloaded him in the drive way, and lead him just as slowly as he wanted to walk down in the pasture where he would have shade and a beautiful view of the Rubies.  Then I held his head and scratched the spot I knew he liked the most while the vet gave him the shot that took all of his pain away forever.  And I cried.  A lot.

I really hope he is with a girl in heaven who needed a good horse.  Who can appreciate him for what he is.  Look past his quirks and love him like I did, because he deserves that much.  Maybe someday I will find another horse just like him, who challenges me when I need it and takes care of me on the days I can't.  Until then I know I will have some hard days.

Saturday I rope in the first branding contest I've entered since I lost him.  I feel lost.  I feel like I can't rope, and I just really want to stay home and pretend that he is down in the field with his ears pinned back, glaring at any other horse who gets too close.  I could really use my copilot for one more ride.

Photo courtesy of Heidi Stevens

Thursday, April 24, 2014

5 Things Every CowboyGirl Should Have

1.  A Good Bridle Horse.

Everyone has that neighbor, or friend, or friend of a friend who is a wreck waiting to happen.  Sooner or later you will have to work around them horse back.  It is comforting to know you have something to ride who can take that stress without having a come apart.

Case in point:  We helped some family brand this spring.  Whether it was the neighbor kid running under my horse's head to get to the calf we just heeled and were headed to the fire at a high trot, or the drunk idiot stumbling through the middle of the branding pen you had to watch out for, there was always some kind of chaos afoot.  Knowing the potential I took "Natty," my bridle horse the Cowboss made for me (who I am still trying to get used to after losing Cricket).  She was doing pretty good.  Then I pantyhosed a big calf.  Instead of dallying, I went with the calf, bucking across the branding trap (calf, not Natty), hoping the rope would slide off it's flanks and I could get dallied before slipping a foot.  When that didn't work, I went to turn the calf off the fence.  I was thinking I could reach down and slip the rope down.  Just as soon as I got close enough to reach down and move the rope, someone decided to help me.  They came running at me, spooking both Natty and the calf.  The calf darted behind my horse still roped.  We were a tangled up mess. Instead of panicking with the rope around her feet, Natty held her breath and waited for the dust to settle.  In case you are wondering, I lost the calf.  Natty didn't have a come apart.  She didn't lose her head.  She stood there and waited for a cue from me.

You should always have a horse that can keep it's head when things come tight.  Not just for your safety, but for everyone around you.

2.  Pretty Boot Tops.  They are like expensive lingerie.  Nobody has to see them, but you still feel sexy.  Feeling sexy makes you confident.  When you are confident, you rope better.

3.  Pretty Silver Earrings.  They make you feel good and like you are put together.  You are more confident when you look and feel your best.

4.  Painted Nails.  Either finger nails or toenails.  Just because I work with a bunch of men doesn't mean I need to act like one.  Painted nails are a good reminder that I am a girl and should always act like a lady.

5.  A Good Cinch, and not just because I tie and sell them!  I feel a cinch is one of the most important pieces of tack a person should have.  It keeps your saddle on your horse.  You need to keep it clean and check it often for broken strands.  There is nothing worse than soring your horse or roping a soggy yearling and having your saddle come right off your horse!  Your horse will perform better when they are more comfortable.

Photo Courtesy of the Fabulous Heidi Stevens!